Institute for Youth Research Malaysia (IYRES)
IYRES is an agency under the Ministry of Youth and Sports Malaysia and a research institute studying various aspects of the young generation’s trends and development and their relation to national, regional and international development. Its vision is to become a research institute and main reference in youth development. Its mission is to create research output that serves as foundation of youth development.
IYRES’ roles and functions arc to act as a national research institute, to collect, manage and maintain all data related to youth development, to implement research-based intellectual programmes, to provide technical, advice & consultancy services all on youth development, and lastly to disseminate research outcomes to stakeholders and society (IYRES, 2019). For example, it can be seen in its earlier works IYRES had mobilized a group of youth coming from various backgrounds such as public and private universities, NGOs, government-linked agencies, ministries and private sectors, to sit together and discuss, then, to suggest to the government what should be done in dealing with extremism, radicalism and terrorism (IYRES, 2014).
In the context of combating terrorism, IYRES has done several roles, in terms of research, publications and infographics. These are some of the examples of counter-terrorism narratives generated by IYRES:
i. Belia Ekstremis
ii. Pengaruh The Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS)
iii. Pendidikan Agama Islam &Penglibatan Dalam Gerakan Islam Radikal
iv. Garis Panduan: Pencegahan Fahaman Ekstremisme & Radikalisme dalam Kalangan Belia dan Masyarakat (IYRES, 2019)
The creation of MYCorps is an initiative by the Ministry of Youth and Sports Malaysia. MYCorps is a platform for Malaysian youths to change the world, create positive impact on the lives of others and make a good name of Malaysia by participating in community service programmes locally and internationally. In addition, MYCorps is modelled along the lines of the international volunteer group, the Peace Corps (Joseph Kaos Jr, 2015).
Based on the MYCorps official website, its missions are:
i. To provide a platform for Malaysian Youths to serve and create an impact,
ii. Broaden mindsets and build new relationships through the immersion of different cultures and,
iii. To provide opportunities to discover a newfound sense of purpose and significance (MYCorps, 2019).
In 2016, MYCorps successfully sent group of volunteers to Cambodia for three months’ stay in the country. Throughout their stay, the participants helped build rain water harvesting systems and toilets in five schools in Cambodia (Arbec, 2016). Besides that, the volunteers also sent to the Middle East (Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey) to help Syrian refugees. According to the then Minister of Youth and Sports, Khairy Jamaluddin, the platform is the right forum for Malaysian youths to create a positive impact in the world instead of joining an ISIS group. Furthermore, he also mentioned MyCorps programmes will be able to shape the identity of the Malaysian youths so that they could be knowledgeable, skilful and competitive globally focused individuals.
In order to assist the government to combat terrorism, groups of experts, including a few selected academicians in Malaysia, arc recruited by the government to participate in several crucial processes of combating terrorism as a whole, which arc rehabilitation, deradicalization and post-release. One of the counter-terrorism experts who is assisting the government is an academician from the International Islamic University Malaysia, Ahmad EI-Mu-hammady. He stated that, the process of deradicalization varies from person to person and often the “hardcore” terrorists arc the hardest. The role of the counter-terrorism expert is to construct the new reality to the former terrorists by rewriting the narratives in their minds. This process consumes time and trust. Ahmad El-Muhammady mentions that he treats the terrorists as friends, establishes a normal human relationship with them and does not treat them as an outcast. This process is crucial to build trust and to motivate them to speak, as well as later to integrate them into the community. He suggested to the government to provide stipends to the former detainees to start off their lives again after coming out from detention (Analysis, 2018). He also mentioned that some of the experts deliver ceramah (talks) at mosques or some other public areas about the danger of extremism and terrorism, as well as about the correct teachings of Islam (Interview, Ahmad El-Muham-mady, 25 October 2019).
Thus, it can be seen that community engagement in Malaysia is still restricted to only a small number of civil society organizations and the coverage of the activities is more towards spreading public awareness and knowledge on terrorism-related issues through talks, discourses, capacity-building, posters and videos.